UM vs. Purdue pink slips

Submitted by Magnus on November 1st, 2008 at 4:52 PM
Brandon Minor, RB.  My support for Brandon Minor is well documented, and few could argue at this point that he's Michigan's best offensive player right now.  He had 24 carries for 155 yards against Purdue, a 6.2 yard average.  He also had three touchdowns, one on a 45 yard touchdown run.  Minor has become an excellent all-around player.  He has good speed, lowers his shoulder for extra yardage, blocks very well, shows good hands, and - perhaps most impressively - runs with a purpose.  The play where he was stopped by Purdue defenders at about the 5-yard line and made second and third efforts to get into the end zone was perhaps the most impressive play I've seen from Minor, even though he was ruled down about six inches from the goal line.  His vision also seems to have improved since last season.

Stephen Schilling, RT.  Despite the loss, the offense scored 35 points.  It's hard to pick a particular player - with a viable backup - who performed poorly.  Threet's performance was frustrating for many reasons, but largely because he refused to keep the ball on the read option.  The backside defensive end was crashing every time and Threet seemed not to care.  But since Sheridan is clearly a worse option, my vote goes for Schilling.  I don't know if I'm frustrated more by Schilling's play or his seeming underperformance as a former five-star lineman.  Either way, with 20 seconds remaining in the game, he made Purdue's defensive end, Ryan Kerrigan, look like Vernon Gholston.  Schilling got bull rushed straight back into Threet for a sack at a crucial time - when Purdue was only rushing three defensive linemen.  Perhaps Perry Dorrestein and Mark Ortmann should be the starting tackles.  I don't know that it would be better, but it would be less frustrating because I expect three-star linemen to get owned.


The defensive line.  All of it.  The 3-3-5 has been ineffective at defending both the run and pass.  A three-man line ideally allows linebackers and safeties to flow to the ball and make tackles in the running game.  Unfortunately, our linebackers aren't good enough at anticipating and tackling to make it effective.  Against the pass, three defensive linemen aren't enough to get to the quarterback, and no Michigan linebacker is good enough at blitzing to be a consistent pass rusher.  Brandon Graham, Tim Jamison, Terrance Taylor, and Will Johnson should be on the field on almost every play (obviously, Mike Martin should get plenty of snaps; Sagesse and Van Bergen should rotate in as well).  If Shafer wants to stick with the nickel look, he should run a 4-2-5.  I like the package with three corners (Warren, Trent, and Cissoko) instead of three safeties, but our defensive line is the best unit and it should stay on the field.

Scott Shafer, Defensive Coordinator and/or Tony Gibson, Secondary Coach.  Shafer has weakened Michigan's best position group by taking one defensive lineman off the field to run the 3-3-5.  Gibson has taken several promising defensive backs and turned them into sieves and/or umbrellas.  With a very athletic and fast secondary, Michigan isn't making interceptions.  Cissoko came out of high school with coaches and recruiting gurus raving about his technique and his backpedal.  A cornerback with a great backpedal is a very dangerous weapon, because he has the ability to break quickly on passes thrown in front of him.  It also lengthens the time he can keep his eyes in the backfield before a receiver breaks his cushion and forces the cornerback to open up his hips to turn and run with a deep route.  But every time I see Cissoko in anything but press coverage, he immediately opens his hips (as do the other corners).  This is a big reason that so many passes are completed in front of Michigan's corners, because as soon as they open their hips and turn to run, opposing wide receivers break off their routes to run outs or hitches.  There's no reason a lousy Purdue team should rack up 48 points - more than undefeated Penn State and explosive Illinois did - on Michigan's defense.  None.  Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams, and Brandent Englemon were solid players, but the defense should not have fallen off this much with seven returning starters.  In 2007 Michigan only allowed 35 points to Heisman winner/national champion Florida, 39 to then-Heisman front-runner Dennix Dixon and Oregon, and 14 to national championship game participant Ohio State.


The Original C

November 1st, 2008 at 5:11 PM ^

HT : Victor's Board

  • Coach Rod was upset
  • It's frustrating, they were trying to make plays in space on defense, but they couldn't.
  • They have switched to the 3-3-5 stacked defense ...
  • Justin Siller - they expected exactly what they saw, that he'd run around, make plays with his legs and his arm.

If we are truly moving over to a stack...well this is a clear case of desperation on the part of Rod. This might be the end of the dream of top 100 DL recruiting!!


November 1st, 2008 at 6:55 PM ^

Listen I'm all for trying to put in the spread offense, It works for other programs, It worked at WVU, it's working as we speak at Florida.... BUt The 3-3-5 is a situational defense that should be used more as a gimmick than a base. It didn't work well at WV, it obviously isn't working at Michigan. If this is their answer to making up for bad play at safety, then this is just a bone headed move. They try and answer the problem by taking a DL out (which has been the strength of this team) and allowing opposing QB's even more time, making things harder on the secondary.

chitownblue (not verified)

November 2nd, 2008 at 10:56 AM ^

BUt The 3-3-5 is a situational defense that should be used more as a gimmick than a base. It didn't work well at WV,

In 2007, WVU had the 4th best defense in the nation.

In 2006, they were 52nd.

In 2005, they were 8th.

In 2004, they were 21st.

Their defense, in the past 4 years, was better than Michigan's in all but one season.

turbo cool

November 1st, 2008 at 5:20 PM ^

add jay hopson and bruce tall to that list of being fired. although, we don't see it i've been told by friends on the team that Gibson is a really good coach fwiw.


November 1st, 2008 at 5:35 PM ^

How could anyone vouch for Gibson?  Being "a good coach" isn't about being liked.  It's about getting the best from your players.  We have only five interceptions this year - one by Ezeh, one by Thompson, one by Stewart, and two by Trent - and we've been poor tacklers and we haven't locked down opposing wide receivers.  And if those players are just saying he's good with respect to the other defensive coaches, then Tall and Hopson must SUCK.


November 1st, 2008 at 5:21 PM ^

If Shafer shouldn't really be getting a pink slip. I know its early and all, and I did expect struggles, but that defense has talent, that isn't being put into a system they aren't suited for, and yet they get jailsexed by a 3rd string QB at Purdue, for 50 points? That is unacceptable, and if the defense doesn't show some serious improvement, especially on third down, it sure wouldn't look good for Mr. Shafer.


November 1st, 2008 at 5:38 PM ^

No amount of athletic ability will save you when you've been out foxed and out thought by your opponent. Sadly, the defensive players for Michigan won't accept that reality. THey want to force their will on people and win WITH FORCE! But defense is as shrewd as offense. No big stars though, just crafty theives and wolves. The back 6 don't get that. No new coach, no new team, no NFL franchise owner can retrain that. What I've learned from watching Michigan this year and last defensively is that we ask too much out of them on the mental end. Sure you have to be a sort of sadomasochist to love being a defender. You have to love the dirty play inflicted on you, and the madness. You get ZERO love like an offensive star like Mike Hart or Chad Henne. BUT WHO CARES! WHO FLIPPING CARES. It's a sacrificial mindset and also a collective one. I really think parts of our defense are just a bunch of individuals who think alot of themselves. To put it another way, kids. 


November 1st, 2008 at 6:14 PM ^

Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?  Are you drunk?  These comments really seem to be from the mind of a drunk, because they're all over the place.  And you obviously know nothing about football.  What the hell is a "back six"?  I tried to think of another sport you might have got that term confused with, but the only one I came close to - golf - has a back nine, not a back six. 


November 2nd, 2008 at 7:36 AM ^

I say the back six against any Tiller coached team. He brought the short intermediate passing spread to the Big Ten a few years ago. You can line up in any traditional defensive formation. But if 5-6 guys are dedicated to pass coverage then you might as well refer to them as pass coverage. So if my down 3 and 2 LB's are Run Stop that would leave me with 6 guys covering the short, intermediate and deep routes. It's an amoeba read, no spine, you just flow to the action. But if your LB's suck at pass coverage it will hinder the use of your back 4. Doubt there will be too many comments to this one. 


November 1st, 2008 at 5:28 PM ^

I personally liked Craig James verbage at Halftime of the Illinois game."This is just stupid defensively speaking." He then when on to say you should expect the unexpected on that play where the last TD was scored. Listen I'm not a coach of football. But this game is on the mental abilities of the defense. When they leave the program then judge Shafer. Sorry, not Shafer's fault.

The psyche or psychology of Michigan's defensive players is ghetto. They get down, they then go way down. You beat em once on a play, you can beat em all game. They fold easily, sadly you cannot coach to stop that. They have a cancer of learning that no amount of coaching can fix. They are one dimensional players. And they always will be. Without the winged helmet, 110,000 people, hype, Ron English cheerleading them on, Hype, they have ZERO will to win. Sorry but they don't. Once again, once the mold is cast no amount of well wishing or coaching can change a player or student. In real life you can trade them or fire them. That usually kicks in certain neuron processes of learning for NFL players. In the arms of Michigan Football some of those players no longer belong. And if they think the NFL will want them, they are delusional. Play your hearts out boys while you are at MI because that's it for most of you.


November 2nd, 2008 at 3:24 AM ^

Umm, to summarize your argument...

Since our defense is having problems, and we don't have an white players on our defense, it is a ghetto thing?

Why is it a ghetto mindset? Is it the way that they celebrate? The way they look?  Because when I played lacrosse, our goalie always played great until he got scored on once, and then the rest of the game it snowballed form there. Is that ghetto?  Should the private school attending, lacrosse playing, rich ass hell, white boy stop thinking ghetto?

You sir are a RACIST! 

And also...why do you say that if someone is ghetto they can't learn?  That sir, is another terrible statement...


November 1st, 2008 at 6:01 PM ^

When they leave the program then judge Shafer.

What the hell has this guy ever done as a coach to have earned that kind of a free pass?  He's been DC at a crap MAC program for two years, DC at a terrible Pac-10 program for one year, and DC of now-terrible Michigan for one year.  He doesn't deserve a long rope.  A year ago we seemed halfway competent on D for most of the season.  We returned eight starters, and now we're Detroit Lion bad?  Shafer was a gamble when we hired him, and it's blowing up in our face.

West Texas Blue

November 1st, 2008 at 6:04 PM ^

Haha just as one facet of our team finally shows good progress (the offense), the defense decides to lay an egg and give up 48 points to a 3rd string QB who several weeks ago was getting reps at RB so that he could earn PT. Our defense is uterly hopeless.

Bielfeldt's Calves

November 1st, 2008 at 7:34 PM ^

The strength of any good defense is in the middle and right now Michigan's middle (middle and strong linebackers and safeties) are to young or aren't performing. Plain and simple. It doesn't matter what scheme you draw up or play you call, if guys don't perform thing won't get done.

Did you see the tackling? Is that Shafer's fault? 



November 2nd, 2008 at 10:52 AM ^

The poor tackling isn't Shafer's fault.  The poor defensive schemes are.  This defense returned 7 starters - at least two of whom are considered 1st or 2nd round picks - and it just allowed 48 points to Purdue and its 3rd string QB.  The players don't just get worse in one year.  Yes, some of them are underperforming, but because of scheme and their lack of confidence in it.  The schemes are stupid.  It just compounds the problems of our poor-tackling LB's and safeties.


November 1st, 2008 at 7:57 PM ^

Dude, we're 2-7, and fielding literally the worst defense in school history.  Stop ridiculing people for coming to the understandable conclusion that our new DC might not be the best man for the job.  


November 1st, 2008 at 8:15 PM ^

Did you see the tackling? Is that Shafer's fault?

Uh . . . yes?  The entire D staff is accountable to him.  If the positional coaches aren't working enough on tackling (which may be the case, given that all three units are poor at it), he should get on them about it.  It's comical how you guys act like Shafer has next to no influence on the play of the defense.  If that's the case, then why have a DC in the first place?


November 1st, 2008 at 9:56 PM ^

I agree.  With the way some are shielding Shafer from any of this blame, I'm starting to think we can replace him with dice.  Hell, that's the only other thing that would explain some of his misplaced (or should I say "innovative") calls.

Plus the kids are really ghetto...we can't do anything about that, right?  Not even coaching them...

Bielfeldt's Calves

November 2nd, 2008 at 8:11 AM ^

I agree that at the end of the day the coaching staff is responsible to get the kids ready to play. That said, at the D-I college level these kids should have tackling fundamentals down. You work on tackling drills at the JV level in high school, not college.

I would also be inclined to believe that (and at this point in the season the point is weakened) they've been spending most of their time working schemes and techniques to put them in the positions they need to be in and not working on tackling.

Look, you have to give any coach a pass on his first year, at least. If we are having this same discussion next year, I will join you on your side of the discussion.


November 2nd, 2008 at 10:55 AM ^

You don't have to give every coach a pass in his first year.  If he's implementing a vastly different system (like Rodriguez's spread offense), then yes, he needs more than a year.  If he's implementing a 3-3-5 because his defensive backs suck, then he doesn't deserve a pass.


November 2nd, 2008 at 9:30 AM ^

Giving credit where credit is due, Magnus you definitely stuck by Minor all season- and I silently agreed with you, but found it hard to excuse the fumbles. He's always had big play potential and after fighting off his injury, he's playing great football. He is indubitably our best overall back and, probably, player. Kudos.

On the 3-3-5 stack- Our defense looked atrocious. As bad as it was though, does anyone else agree that Purdue got away with holding several times? Perhaps my eyes deceived me because we only had 3 on the line, but i mean we got NO pressure on the QB whatsoever!
I'm sure I'm late in discovering this, but has anyone else noticed our 3rd Qtr performance?

Here's our 3rd Q breakdown per game

Utah - 3,
Michigan - 0
Lost by 2

Miami(NTM) - 3,
Michigan - 0
(Win by 10, didn't really matter)

ND - 0
Michigan- 0 (Fumbles, didn't matter - I was there, it stank)

Isconsin - 0 pts,
Michigan - 7 pts
(win by 2, huge 4th Q- Thanks for the W!)

Illinois - 7 pts,
Michigan - 0 pts
(Didn't matter, but close until the 4th)

Toledo - 3 pts,
Michigan - 0 pts

Penn State- 12 pts,
Michigan - 0 pts
(Close until 4th)

Little Brother - 7 pts,
Big Brother - 7 pts
(No Mike Hart or Braylon + bad 4th Q =L)

Purdue - 14 pts,
Michigan - 0 pts


November 2nd, 2008 at 9:06 AM ^

You guys are just an angry mob of confusion. Reminds of me 17th century England where they would just burn people at the stakes. Or Rome where they would throw people to the lions. You're viral and venomous. The Michigan fanbase with it's at home booing, bad hubris, and this blog world with its superiority complex is at the heart of the problem with Michigan Football. And now you're all turning on anyone and everyone. You wanna fire Shafer? You wanna Fire Rich Rod? They will both land on their feet, find other jobs, put bread on the table, and gladly forget their trip to our state. And I wouldn't blame em, after this year, the fans have mad this one of the worst places a recruit could go. Has anyone read the on game blogs or these diaries? They are an avenue for some sickness. I know football is a metaphor for life in many ways, but look, this post loss - anger blogging is some of the worst I've ever seen. You guys should stop watching if it's going to make you feel that angry. In less than 100 years you'll all be in the ground and no one but a few relatives will remember you. Why not go do something with your life instead of call for people to be fired on the internet? In a mass of confusion, if you go to war with,"your perceived enemy,"you just add fuel to the fire. What you push against you ultimately become because you absorb part of it during the struggle. Just let go and cheer and join up with the side that's cheering. Your anger is now chasing logic out of the room. This is a fickle fan base in many regards and the rest of the SEC and even MSU and tOSU are all going,"see we told you so, they wine." As a fan base we've regressed worse than the team. Cmon guys it's sunday, go volunteer or go worship. Do something positve other than complain about coaching. After reading the quotes from this blog site I am almost ready for internet 2.0 and the censorship it will likely bring. 

Blue Durham

November 2nd, 2008 at 9:57 AM ^

I derive my MANHOOD from the success of Michigan football!  And my self esteem just took a big fucking hit too. 

How the hell am I going to survive the offseason not being superior to all my Sparty breathern, but even having to take endless abuse from them!  Let alone the surviving yet another beatdown and subsequent abuse from the all of the bucknuts.

I am going to have to live in a fucking cave until next season!   

And its all Scott Shafer's fucking fault! 

This is fucking serious, man! 


November 2nd, 2008 at 11:03 AM ^

If you had any idea what you were talking about, I might agree with you.  However, last year I took a lot of shit on this blog for being supportive of Carr and English.  I supported them throughout the year and wanted them to keep their jobs, even when people were calling for Carr to be fired after the first week.  I'm not a reactionary fan.  Rodriguez should keep his job, because his system is vastly different and we can see flashes of brilliance from his offense; it just needs more consistency.  There have been ZERO flashes of brilliance from this defense, other than Brandon Graham occasionally saying "I'm better than the guy across from me" and obliterating the opposing QB.  The defense has not created turnovers.  It has not created sacks from anyone but Graham.  The linebackers have been bad, with the exception of a couple games from Ezeh and some visible improvement from Mouton.  There has not been one single game this year where any of us has thought, "Wow, this defense might turn out pretty good."


November 5th, 2008 at 10:10 PM ^

At the start of the season I was nervous about our lack of experience at the skill positions, but at the same time excited to see what the new guys could do, especially because many of them were highly touted recruits. In particular I wnated to see McGuffie and Shaw because they are the kind of backs (smallish and lightning quick)that we do not often see at Michigan playing in an offense that we've never seen at Michigan. I've seen enough of McGuffie now to pass judgement and remain optimistic for the future: he's as quick and fast as we thought, has good vision that will only improve, good ball security, but needs to work on his strength in general so he can better shed tackles and pass protect. However, I do not feel I can do the same about Shaw. He's been an afterthought. We just haven't seen him play that much. (It's not good for him or Stonum that the AA News mislabeled his picture as the latter). This is of course due to injury and fumbling troubles that have buried him on the depth chart, but there is reason to believe that he will not remain there. From everything that we've heard about him he is just to talented. The few instances that he has gotten in the game his speed and quickness have been evident from his very first steps. But how much will we get to see him in the future? Certainly that depends on his own performance on and off the field, but the competition at the running back spot is only going to get tougher (which is ofcourse lovely for all the fans). We already have Minor, McGuffie, Brown, Grady, Cox (the random guy from CT who almost transfered), Mike Milano (just kidding). Next year we'll bring in three more, four if you count Gallon as an RB. So my question remains: how much will Shaw play going forward and to what degree will he maximize his enormous potential?